Monday, January 31, 2022

More Wintry Weather & Making Power

Hello, friends.  Last week, for a dinner, I sauteed our cabbage, steamed our potatoes, and roasted a jar of our green beans.  It's so nice to have a meal that's from our garden in the middle of winter.  On a quick trip to the grocery store, there were shortages for a number of things on my list, including organic carrots, celery, bananas, and apple juice.  I did a double take at the bananas, as the organic section was filled, but it was with conventional bananas.  I hope no one else was fooled.  However, there was an excellent sale on frozen blueberries, $4 less than the usual price, so I got three.  I use these in the MM smoothies I have most days.  Thankfully, after making a soap delivery later in the week, I found organic celery at Harris Teeter, as well as organic GF pad thai noodles on sale 2/$5, usually 3.49 ea.  They also had organic bananas, and I received the 5% off senior discount.

cleaning up Berkey stand orders was a little chillier than usual

Working on eating from the freezer, I pulled out black bean burgers and two partial bags of french fries one night.  I pulled corn out another night for J, which is something I can't eat right now.  There are several bags in the freezer, so I'll be more diligent about cooking it for him, to use them up.  Trends shift as to what sells in my online soap shop.  Last year, I sold lots of garden sets with soap, seeds and garden gloves.  I ran out of seeds shortly before the holidays, so had to take the set down from my shop page.  I was delighted to find seeds again at both Dollar General and Dollar Tree last week.  I was also happy to find bamboo toothbrushes and garden gloves at Dollar Tree.  These things are now $1.25, but still reasonable enough, I think.

Several  jars of homemade broth were used during the week.  I've been working on another bag of frozen peaches in my oatmeal.  Friday afternoon was happily spent with my sister, to celebrate her birthday.  After lunch, we thrifted a few places.  I found a large, heavy duty plant roller, and two pottery dinner plates to add to my collection at one store, nothing at another, and a T shirt for J at the last.  We finished up at Big Lots, and used a 22% off coupon.  I only found two items I needed there, but it was still nice to get the discount.  The last of our homegrown onions were used over the weekend.

A fb friend recently put up a post about her successful sourdough GF bread.  That inspired me, as I've yet to have a good GF bread.  On Saturday, I started a batch of sourdough, using brown rice flour, with these instructions.  In a week, I'll give her recipe a try, and hope for good things.  Our garlic, and jars of our tomatoes and squash were used in pasta sauce.  I harvested parsley, and used our dried oregano in a soup.  We've had some wintry weather each of the past three weekends, which doesn't happen often in these parts.  J has been working hard on our solar project, and has got the first row of panels up.  Though not hooked up to anything yet, he did hook two panels up to his meter, which showed them making power.  We're pretty excited to be getting closer to making our own power! 

Monday, January 24, 2022


Hello, friends.  Besides using pantry items last week, I've been slowly working on eating what's in the freezer.  During the week, I finished a jar of peaches J had opened in oatmeal, then started using a bag of gifted frozen apple pieces in oatmeal.  I felt like baking, and made a MM spice cake.  A library book I'm enjoying is The Ride of Her Life.  There were rutabagas that needed using.  I haven't enjoyed them as much this winter just boiled, so I tried making soup with them, which was decent.  There were leftover sweet potatoes, which I tried making GF naan with, with Bob's 1:1 baking flour.  I've yet to have any GF breads that I thought were good, but these were a little better than the loaf breads I've had.  It was time to get my car inspected.  I did replace tires in the fall, as I knew they wouldn't pass, and was happy it needed nothing else to pass this week.  I read about jar openers that don't damage canning lids, allowing you to reuse them.  I purchased a Jarkey, and though I haven't tried reusing the lids yet, it does seem to remove most of them without damage.  If it works, that's definitely worth the small investment.

While I was baking broccoli mac & cheese (vegan), I put 6 sweet potatoes in the oven to bake too.  Another night, I made mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, and had a salad to go with it.  Our cabbage, onions and garlic were used in a stir fry, along with cashews and other veggies.  Little by little, I've been working on my taxes.  I'll crunch numbers for a while, then go do something else.  This way, it will get done, but it's less painful.  Our library announced this week that they were doing away with fines.  I still brought back the books and documentaries I had, so others could enjoy them.  I used some pesto from the freezer with pasta, and made a salad for a dinner.  With our shop holiday over, we're back at work on Berkey stands.  We had two firsts this time. We made our first stand with three shelves, and made our first stand headed to France.  We're pretty excited about that.

We awoke to a light dusting of snow on Friday.  I asked J what cozy meal he'd like for dinner, and he said he'd like me to cook some dried beans.  I do can some dried beans every winter, and still have jars of crowder peas and lima beans, but I put a pot of dried crowder peas on the woodstove in the morning, and let them simmer through the day.  I froze several containers for future meals.  Bags of frozen spaghetti squash and lambs quarter were used in a side dish.  The chickens got warm grains, powdered milk and greens for extra warmth and nutrition on the coldest days, and a few handfuls of meal worms.  I added more hay to their nest boxes and coops, when the forecast called for a wind chill of 9 degrees.  Brrrr.  The farm cat has been getting canned food, in addition to her kibble.  There was another 3" of snow Friday night.  Even so, laundry was hung on the line, and J made progress on the framework for the solar panels.  After seeing several mentions of it, I checked out Wordle, and have played three days.  It's always good to do things to keep your mind sharp, I'm thinking.

There's been an interesting discussion about home temperatures, on The Prudent Homemaker.  It seems somewhat of a trend that those in hot climates can handle warmer temps in their homes, ie., have their a/c set on 81, and those in colder climes are comfortable with colder home temps, ie., have their heat set at 58.  Heating with wood, we aim to keep the temp 76 in our great room.  The thermostat is only about 9' from the woodstove.  Sunday morning, I noticed the bathroom temp was 63.9 and the studio was 61 degrees, so the periphery of the house is definitely cooler, and we keep our bedroom door almost closed at night.  There are winter days where it's 75 in the great room, and I'm comfortable, and on summer days when J is not indoors, I can be comfortable at 77, and I'm sure higher if it wasn't so humid here.  J's inner thermostat runs hot.  I layer up on cold days, with fleece pants, a camisole, cashmere sweater, warm vest, and use a flannel shirt over that when needed, plus wool socks and slippers.  On occasion, I'll keep a hat or scarf on indoors, and take layers off when I'm cooking, etc.  I'm sure it's what you acclimate yourself to, but I don't think I could wear enough to be comfortable at 58 degrees, or even 65.  How about you?  

Monday, January 17, 2022

A Little Winter Weather

Hello, friends.  Monday's high was in the 40's, but it was sunny and breezy, so I hung laundry on the line, which all dried by late afternoon.  Good thing, as I was planning on putting our warmest flannel sheets back on the bed.  A delicate shirt was hand washed and hung on the line as well.  I had a pile of kraft paper I'd set aside to reuse for gift wrapping, but didn't use this holiday.  I ironed it all, and put it with the holiday things, so it will be ready for next year.  I made gnocchi with tomato broth, which used our tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and homemade broth.  Our lettuce was used in a salad, and dressing was made with honey and lemon juice.

While wrapping soap, I enjoyed listening to an On Being podcast on silence.  I got our four little butternut squash from cold storage, and cut them up for squash crumble.  The chickens got the seeds and innards.  I went grocery shopping for the first time this year on Weds., mostly for fresh produce.  At Aldi's, I found butternut squash for .99/#, and was happy to see 40# of sunflower seeds for $22.99 at Tractor Supply.  I wanted to be sure I had plenty of bird seed, for the wintry event they predicted for the weekend.  I stopped by the library to drop off a book, and picked up another, along with some Ken Burns documentaries about the National Park system.  For a dinner, I baked some of our sweet potatoes, and used our cabbage in a new recipe for southern fried cabbage.  J had leftover cranberry blueberry sauce with it, and I had warmed applesauce with cinnamon.  

With frigid temps at night, I brought in a large container of parsley plants, to keep them going.  I went through Swagbucks, for a Vitacost order, to get 6% back.  A bag of figs in the freezer was used up in oatmeal during the week.  I strained and bottled usnea tincture, stevia glycerite, lemon balm glycerite, and pine needle vinegar.  Two loads of laundry were done on Friday, and hung on the line, in advance of the wintry weather.  I gathered a few large potatoes from our outdoor storage, for fries, and made veggie burgers with lentils, oats, onions, garlic and spices, along with a salad.  I'm loving eating our lettuce in mid-January. 


The first hellebore bloom is a bit bedraggled, but welcome nonetheless.  We woke up to sleet on Sunday, which fell all morning, then changed to freezing rain.  I made the chickens a warm concoction of grains, powdered milk, nettles and lambs quarter.  Our power flickered a few times, but stayed on.  The gnocchi with broth always makes more broth than needed, so I added some of our cabbage to it (it already has carrots, celery, tomatoes, onions and garlic), and had soup for lunch.  A bag of our broccoli was pulled from the freezer, and used in vegan mac and cheese, a comforting meal I've had in mind to make recently.  Season One of A Chef's Life, about a restaurant in eastern NC we've enjoyed meals at a couple of times, was picked up at the library, and enjoyed for several days.  Seeing all the wonderful meals makes me want to go back there.  I hope you're staying warm and eating well.  Have a great week, friends.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Soup To The Rescue

Hello, friends.  Before recent nights, we've had some pretty warm temps, and some of the plants are thinking of spring.  Last week, I harvested broccoli, lettuce, parsley, collards, and shared some collards and a small amount of broccoli with a friend.  I checked the books on my amazon wish list with the library, and found three are now there.  I always check the library before I add books to my list, but these had all been added since then, which was a nice surprise.  With enjoying stitching on the Christmas gift, I decided to buy a simple Christmas kit to work on.  Unfortunately, I realized I couldn't see the fabric well enough to stitch it, with 28 count linen, so I purchased some inexpensive magnifying glasses, which arrived Saturday.  They make all the difference in being able to see, but I realized I may not be cut out to work that fine of a fabric, as it was still a bit of a struggle, and not terribly enjoyable dealing with such teeny tiny squares.  Any suggestions?

The soup I had frozen not long ago, to have on hand for sickness, came in handy last week, as I was under the weather for several days.  I was so thankful to be able to just defrost one of the soups made for just this purpose, which fed me two meals.  Switching from soup to soap... I made one batch on Monday, and felt well enough again to make another batch on Thursday, which has me caught up for the moment.  The oils for both were melted on the woodstove.  I've been noticing a flock of little birds in the chicken yard, eating up the scratch when they can get to it, and found out they're white throated sparrows.  Before a night in the teens, J & I harvested the last of the lettuce, all the broccoli side shoots, chard, and cabbage.  There were just enough side shoots to make broccoli Thai noodles for a dinner.

battery room with inverter

Our solar project is moving right along, thanks to J's hard work.  Our inverter and charge controller arrived last week, and they're already installed.  Now that the concrete footers are dry, he's begun setting up the solar panel framework.  Christmas was taken down and put away over the weekend.  I finally got around to washing the dog's nose art off the storm doors, which has needed doing for some time, and cleaned several areas well in the kitchen.  I enjoyed watching the series North & South, which takes place in England, and have also enjoyed reading Carnegie's Maid on Kindle.  We continue to eat our dinners by candlelight, a winter tradition I very much enjoy.  I hope you're enjoying some cozy traditions at your home too.  

Monday, January 3, 2022

A New Year of Possibilities

Hello, friends.  On a walk last week, I saw a bright yellow and black feather, which was ID'd as a tail feather of a Northern Flicker.  A bin of shredded paper was added to the compost bin.  I switched around my closet, so that I could more easily reach the cold weather clothes, and added a few things I wasn't wearing to the donation box.  During a mending session, I sewed a button on J's shirt, mended two sweaters and two ornaments, and removed and redid some stitching on the summer quilt that I was never happy with.  On warm days, I pulled up invasive honeysuckle in two areas, along with cedar and wild blackberries, and vinca in another area  The first two amaryllis are blooming beautifully.  

Another two rounds of broccoli were harvested, and frozen.  I'm so thankful for the excellent harvest this year.  I made broccoli almond soup with what wasn't frozen, and used our roasted garlic in it.  I received the sweetest note from our mail carrier, thanking me for the cross stitch gift.  I reached out and sent a letter to an old high school friend that stopped staying in touch with another friend and I years ago.  I hope she'll contact me, and the three of us can meet and catch up with our lives since then.  J told me about a full 55 gal. barrel of vegetable glycerin he saw on Marketplace.  Glycerin is good for many things, including many body care products and medicinal glycerites.  They bought it from one of my trusted soap suppliers, and they were asking $50.  The current price is over $850 with an additional $250+ for shipping!  We picked it up on Friday.  Now to figure out what to do with it all!

With several bags of cranberries in the fridge, I decided to freeze two, started a batch fermenting in honey, and kept enough fresh to make one more round of sauce.  On a recent trip to Food Lion, I was given a coupon for a free can of their brand fruit or vegetable.  They accepted a can of mushroom pieces, which was added to the pantry.  I purchased avocados for .59 at Aldi's.  Kale was harvested for a cranberry quinoa salad.  We had a lovely New Years Eve with friends, and were home long before midnight.  On New Years Day, I made a MM spice cake.  While the cake was baking, I also baked sweet potatoes.  J harvested some winter greens, which I used in a winter salad.  Our collards and onions were sauteed with sesame seeds and coconut amino sauce, and we had black eyed peas to round out our New Years meal.  With Sunday being a damp day, I caught up on the ironing.  I'll fully reopen our home goods shop on Monday.  Let the games begin!  Wishing you a peaceful week.